General Petreus, PO2 Michael Monsoor, SSG Bellavia, and LT G. And the Punic Wars
General Petreus, as the entire world knows (I'm rarely the last to know, but often the last to blog about it), testified in front of Congress. In the ideal world, every American citizen would read transcripts of the testimony. Because in the ideal world, while the war would be fought be professionals like the gentlemen listed in the heading on this article (and your humble correspondent), the entire country would consider itself at war and would consider the war relatively important, and hence something that an informed voter should educate himself or herself on.
Of course, I didn't read the whole transcript linked about. Most of the opening remarks appears to asinine grandstanding by fatuous assholes elected to office not for their foreign policy expertise, knowledge of world affairs, or competence to remark upon the military situation in Iraq, but for their ability to bring home the pork and placate those of their constituents who are in the demographics that the pollsters and pundits indicate can be swayed to the politico's side.
Excerpts from the General's remarks:
"Less recognized is that Iraq has also conducted a surge, adding well over 100,000 additional soldiers and police to the ranks of its security forces in 2007 and slowly increasing its capability to deploy and employ these forces.
"A second factor has been the employment of coalition and Iraqi forces in the conduct of counterinsurgency operations across the country, deployed together to safeguard the Iraqi people, to pursue Al Qaida-Iraq, and to combat criminal elements and militia extremists, to foster local reconciliation, and to enable political and economic progress."Another important factor has been the attitudinal shift among certain elements of the Iraqi population. "
"Though a Sadr stand-down resolved the situation to a degree, the flare-up also highlighted the destructive role Iran has played in funding, training, arming and directing the so-called special groups, and generated renewed concern about Iran in the minds of many Iraqi leaders."
"It clearly is in our national interests to help Iraq prevent the resurgence of Al Qaida in the heart of the Arab world, to help Iraq resist Iranian encroachment on its sovereignty, to avoid renewed ethno-sectarian violence that could spill over Iraq's borders and make the existing refugee crisis even worse, and to enable Iraq to expand its role in the regional and global economies."
That's the good, the bad is in there too. Ambassador Crocker talks the politics and economics of reconstructing Iraq and helping them establish good government, and there's a lot of obstacles yet to overcome. Still, as I keep pointing out, the speed record for counterinsurgency is a decade, and we aren't there yet.
I'll give Ambassador Crocker the last words I'll quote directly, and then you can check out some other links for more opinions.
"I remain convinced that a major departure from our current engagement would bring failure, and we have to be clear with ourselves about what failure would mean.
"Al Qaida is in retreat in Iraq, but it is not yet defeated. Al Qaida's leaders are looking for every opportunity they can to hang on. Osama bin Laden has called Iraq the perfect base and it reminds us that a fundamental aim of Al Qaida is to establish itself in the Arab world. It almost succeeded in Iraq. We cannot allow it a second chance.
"And it is not only Al Qaida that would benefit. Iran has said publicly it will fill any vacuum in Iraq and extremist Shia militias would reassert themselves. We saw them try in Basra and Baghdad two weeks ago.
"And in all of this, the Iraqi people would suffer on a scale far beyond what we have already seen. Spiraling conflict could draw in neighbors with devastating consequences for the region and the world.
"Mr. Chairman, as monumental as the events of the last five years have been in Iraq, Iraqis, Americans and the world ultimately will judge us far more on the basis of what will happen than what has happened. In the end, how we leave and what we leave behind will be more important than how we came.
"Our current course is hard, but it is working. Progress is real, although still fragile. We need to stay with it."PO2 Michael Monsoor
The President of the United States, in the name of the Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor, posthumously, to Master At Arms Second Class, Sea, Air and Land, Michael A. Monsoor, United States Navy. For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Automatic Weapons Gunner for Naval Special Warfare Task Group Arabian Peninsula, in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on 29 September 2006.
As a member of a combined SEAL and Iraqi Army sniper overwatch element, tasked with providing early warning and stand-off protection from a rooftop in an insurgent-held sector of Ar Ramadi, Iraq, Petty Officer Monsoor distinguished himself by his exceptional bravery in the face of grave danger. In the early morning, insurgents prepared to execute a coordinated attack by reconnoitering the area around the element's position. Element snipers thwarted the enemy's initial attempt by eliminating two insurgents. The enemy continued to assault the element, engaging them with a rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire. As enemy activity increased, Petty Officer Monsoor took position with his machine gun between two teammates on an outcropping of the roof. While the SEALs vigilantly watched for enemy activity, an insurgent threw a hand grenade from an unseen location, which bounced off Petty Officer Monsoor's chest and landed in front of him. Although only he could have escaped the blast, Petty Officer Monsoor chose instead to protect his teammates. Instantly and without regard for his own safety, he threw himself onto the grenade to absorb the force of the explosion with his body, saving the lives of his two teammates. By his undaunted courage, fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of certain death, Petty Officer Monsoor gallantly gave his life for his country, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
Now, let me think. 2006, September. . . Yeah, I had a couple friends out at Corregidor, and I heard about PO2 Monsoor's death, although I don't think that I heard the detail of him hurling himself on a grenade. Either way, this recognition is deserved.Former SSG Bellavia, you might recall from the video I embedded in Tuesday's post. He makes the specific point that society treats athletes better than combat veterans and heros, and holds them up as role models rather than those who you know, actually contribute something to society. I didn't realize it at the time, but under the Keith Olbermann's definition, this makes him a racist. Bellavia is running for Congress, and at an event he introduces John McCain as a better role model than Tiger Woods. Olbermann is shocked. It's part of the ongoing liberal meme about how all Republicans are racist, when in fact the Democratic Party is far more race-obsessed than any gathering of actual conservatives is. That's why the results for Hillary and Obama are split along racial lines. News Flash for Olbermann: unlike you, your guests, and your fellow-thinkers on the Left, when Mr. Bellavia looks at John McCain and Tiger Woods, he doesn't see a white man and an "African-American multi-racial person" he sees a former naval officer, combat veteran, former POW, and US senator on one side, and a professional golfer on the other. That is the difference, not merely their skin color.
LT G's blog goes on the blogroll, and if you can't figure out why in his first five entries, you are doing it wrong..
Finally, the Punic Wars in three minutes.